Resident Evil 2 Remake Review: Prepare to be Terrified
It's been 20 years since Resident Evil 2 first graced the gaming community on the original PlayStation console. The title is best remembered for introducing us to characters that would become fan-favorites in the series, as well as taking everything about the first game that made it so compelling and terrifying, and stepping it up tenfold.
Now, after the success of the first Resident Evil remake, fans have a chance to step back into Racoon City to face off against onslaughts of zombies all over again. Just like the first game, Resident Evil 2 Remake has been revamped and rebuilt from the ground up to take advantage of today's hardware and the impressive RE Engine to immerse you into the world.
In Resident Evil 2, players take on the role of rookie officer Leon Kennedy as he begins his first shift with the Racoon Police Force, as well as college student Claire Redfield, the sibling of Resident Evil 1 protagonist Chris Redfield, who's desperately searching for her brother.
Players will need to control both characters through their campaigns to take on the zombie-infested Racoon City and discover the truth about what's going on behind the scenes.
With dangers lurking around every corner, hidden items and secrets waiting to be discovered, and a host of bonuses for those who test themselves, there's a lot to do and explore, which should keep you playing for hours. But can you survive? And what can you expect to see in the latest installment?
Horrors behind every corner
Resident Evil 2 is just terrifying to play and takes the survival genre to new heights. It uses its atmosphere to perfection to make every hallway and area feel dangerous. You'll never know when an enemy will appear, and when they do, they almost always make you jump.
This tension builds up as you slowly come to terms with all the decisions that need to be made in a single battle. Do you fight this zombie off and risk wasting precious limited ammo for a potentially more significant battle up ahead, or do you make a run for it and hope that you don't get swarmed?
All these decisions will define you and will reflect the type of player you are. But nearly every choice has a consequence.
We found ourselves in multiple situations where we wasted hundreds of precious bullets on a horde of zombies, leaving us defenseless for the fights ahead. We can't tell you how many times we had to reload old save files to redo sections because we messed up in certain situations.
This is where scavenging and taking your time helps you in the later stages of the game. You want to check every nook and cranny to find anything you might have missed out on to give you an extra edge. This element adds to the slow pace of the game that makes you feel like you're struggling to survive.
Thankfully, there's a way to find out if you missed something. When you load up the map, a blue area signals that you have discovered everything that you can in that area, while a red signal means you might have missed something—so you can return to a previously-visited area and see what you left behind.
Some of the items you find might not seem useful at first, but this is where the crafting element of the game comes into play.
Similar to how all other Resident Evil games have worked in the past few years, you can craft ammo with the limited amount of items littered around the map to give you that one extra bullet that could be the difference between life or death. Be careful with how you craft, though, because some items are better than others and those crafting ingredients are still as limited as everything else.
Of course, ammo isn't the only object you'll need to craft. Essential items might also need to be combined to proceed, and you can also create new and unique life-saving items just by combing herbs, and other things you might not think about, together.
Search and survive
For any easily-scared players like ourselves, you'll find yourself repeating a lot of your actions in the opening few hours as you slowly proceed through the game.
Explore an area, find all of the items that you can, craft items into useable resources, mow down enemies to proceed to the next area, go back to the safe point to save, and repeat. It might be repetitive, but this is a choice we made personally to maximize our experience—and to make sure we weren't forgetting or using precious items in the wrong way.
If you can find the courage to break your routine, however, you might soon discover one of the many puzzles hiding in the game. These puzzles are tricky and require you to observe the area and leave notes lying around to unlock cool gear that will improve your chances of survival.
Of course, the game doesn't just let you play your way all the time. We can't tell you how many times we've gone into a new room thinking we were safe, and then we hear banging behind us and see a zombie we hadn't noticed crashing into the room, forcing us to defend ourselves when we were not exactly ready for it.
A few zombies you also think you've killed have a habit of not being dead, which forced us to start knifing each one on the ground to be sure that we dealt the killing blow. It's honestly nerve-wracking and chips away at your knife's life bar each time.
We haven't even begun to talk about all of the different enemies that each requires their own methods to defeat them. Lickers, the long slim zombies that scale across the walls, for example, are blind, so walking at a steady pace and not firing a shot is the best way to get around them safely.
As you progress, more unique enemies will start to appear, and you'll need to learn how to overcome them—but some, which we won't mention due to spoilers, just can't be killed. In those instances, your only means of survival is just to run and pray for the best.
One final shot
Considering how many times Capcom has remade Resident Evil 2, this version is arguably the best of them all. The team outdid themselves with this one and pulled out all the stops to make it an exhilarating experience.
We've been sitting here for hours thinking about any negatives the game might have, and nothing drastic comes to mind. Of course, we could nitpick and say that all the backtracking adds extra unneeded hours to the game, or that some zombies take way more headshots to kill than others—but those critiques make Resident Evil what it is.
The game starts slow to get you used to it before pumping up the intensity and throwing you into the deep end. The constant fear and thought of something creeping up behind you is a lingering feeling that lasts until the end of the game.
And we haven't even talked about all the end game content. We don't want to spoil what's in store, but if you give the game the time and patience and try to unlock everything, then you're in for a treat.
When it comes down to it, though, Resident Evil 2 is one of the best horror games made to date, and no other franchise can come close to what Resident Evil offers.
Now, all we need to do is wait for the Resident Evil 3 remake. It's bound to happen at this rate.
Disclosure: Our PC review copy of Resident Evil 2 was provided courtesy of Capcom.